Page 11 of 13 FirstFirst ... 2345678910111213 LastLast
Results 151 to 165 of 191

Thread: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

  1. #151
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    347

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    hussein,


    Maybe the terms real and unreal are a little confusing. I'm not quite sure what an unreal hand is. In fact, I think the whole discussion is plagued with confusing semantics. I certainly accept everything as being real and I certainly wouldn't say Allah's yad as you described is not "real" or is unreal... since to me, unreal almost indicates the connotation of untrue. That is why when I view something as metaphor or yad as power or something else, I would not call it unreal because to do so makes it sound somewhat untrue... and in fact, that is exactly the kind of argument shanqiti makes, which to me is a little superficial. He states that everything in the Quran is true, and since majaz essentially involves negation (if I say he is a lion, then it can also mean he is not a lion), therefore, majaz is invalid since it negates the sifaat or other things in the Quran. To me, this is superficial because majaz elevates the meaning to a different plane, it does not simply negate the statement and leave it at that. He is a lion does not become a negated untrue statement, it simply carries a different more elevated/sublime meaning. Nor would I then say he is an unreal lion, because it simply is a strange thing to say. In the context of a human being, he is a real lion with the characteristics that make a lion distinguished.. without literally being a lion, he is a lion.

  2. #152
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    2,349

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salaam Ron,

    All I can say is that if one sees it in the context that God is not an absentee landlord it may be clearer. The problem we are having here is that it seems you think this interpretation strips God of His Glory and Control, when it actually doesn't. The disbelievers claimed that God did not run the universe 1. He just left it be. 2. others share in running it. So the ayah says in so many words that God not just created the universe but He did not leave it to itself but controlled/managed it.
    That is fine, but the understanding of Istawa ala Al Arsh should not be limited to this. This is one of my problems with figurative approaches. They decide one understanding as correct and negate others. This is wrong and limiting methodology.

    Literal is strict meaning. If you want it to be conceptual then you would have to apply some mental acrobatics. So the concept of a throne and God taking the throne brings the conceptual idea that God sat on the throne. Your interpretation of separation/barrier and balance is no different than the figurative interpretation of control.
    I would disagree. When one says literal, one points to two main things:

    1- The nature of the entity being discussed. Here, when it comes to God's attributes, the "Bila Kayf and bila mithl" tell us to accept the reality of the entity without paying attention to it's nature.

    2- What the entity points to and indicates and the message coming from it. This is wide and encompasses many elements and many points of meaning. This one encompasses all the valid figurative and metaphorical understandings of the term and may be more.

    The context of the sentence lets us know whether the entity's nature is real or not and whether all or part of what it indicates to us applies or not. This is literal and thahir as understood by the Salaf.

    When one understands the entity as metaphoric or whatever "only" , then they are doing two troubling things:

    1- Denying the reality of the entity regardless of what the text says.
    2- Limiting the meaning of the statement to only one metaphorical or whatever meaning.

    This to me is restriction and often times, inappropriate negation

    I am not convinced that our predecessors subscribed to the interpretation you've provided. Can you provide us with some of these views earlier than Ibn Taymiyyah's (ra) time? As a matter of fact as close as possible to the Prophet's (pbuh) time as possible.
    well Izaaree provided some meanings that he can get out Of Arsh and so on. An example is Imam Malik, when asked about "istawa ala al arsh", he answered. We know what it means, but we do not know how or what about it. He meant that we know what it indicates and that it is real and we are not supposed to speculate on it's nature. The proof that he understood it as separation from the creation is when he was asked about "WA huwa maakum aynama kuntum= and He is with you wherever you are", he explained as being with you but in a consistent fashion with being separate from us. Malik answered with with you in knowledge. Others may have chosen otherwise. The common denominator is that the withness is understood without it being contradictory to the statements of the Qur'an that indicate separateness. The Istawa ala Al Arsh is the strongest statement of God being separate from His creation.

    So, any person that studies their writings in a wholistic fashion will find that form of conceptual understanding. You have another example of how they dealt with the WE of the Qur'an and many others.

    To my thought process they would not be eliminated, rather, they are supposed to be understood. To my mind they are much like the prefaces that we employ today. A summary-like attention grabber. A reciter of the Qur'an would begin and the crowd would hear "Alif Lam Meem" and instantly they are captivated by what is going to be told. They want to hear what he had to say. It's like someone saying, "hey, do you want to hear about the this, that, and this"? Have you ever seen Thamudic inscriptions? Please try to get a hold of some online. The whole story is written out and on the side or above the writing is a summary like inscription. It is quite interesting. Nevertheless, the point is that the Arabs knew exactly what was going on. They heard and they listened.
    This is speculation and you do know that you can be wrong. Sometimes, it is better not to speculate when the matter is full of unknowns. Sometimes we have enough to have an educated speculation, but without being definitive. It is only when we do not speculate that we are definitive and sometimes this has to leave a wide angle of vision.

    This doesn't answer the question. Why would God be talking to people about pantheism when they didn't even believe in such a thing. Are you suggesting that He mentioned something to them that they had no clue about but it relates to us?
    Th Qur'an is a book of facts. It is not a book of polemics. When it does do polemics, it is still stating facts. Those facts answer the polemics of this group, but also answer the polemics of any future false movement. We cannot limit the Qur'an to only answering the pagans or jews or christians of Arabia. It is a bigger thing than that. It is above all, a book of facts.

    Shuaib
    He states that everything in the Quran is true, and since majaz essentially involves negation
    I am not familiar with his writings. However a statement like that suggests this:

    Limiting the understanding to Majaz only is negation of the real entity. No one of the Salaf rejected the majaz meaning as long as it also accepted the reality of the entities discussed.

    Your accepting of the reality of the entities behind the power and so on which God called "His hands" makes this thought process in line with the Salaf. The ones who insisted on majaz only understanding are people who rejected the reality of those entities. There is no other reason for a person to insist on majaz only understanding.

    If he meant otherwise, then I will have to read it and see what he actually means and whether he is right or wrong.

    Take care all and have a great day.


    Hussein
    To consider that our logic is logical all the time is actually illogical. To consider that our understanding of the text is correct all the time is also illogical.

  3. #153
    Administrator
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    4,837

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salam Hussein,

    Would you agree that Istawa Ala al-Arsh means that God took to the Throne but that we don't know how or what it was like but the meaning of this is that God established His dominion and continued to run the affairs of the universe?

    Also, figurative language can be quite specific..."the IRS struck him a blow." They didn't punch him, hopefully

  4. #154
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Milky Way
    Posts
    7,698

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    That is fine, but the understanding of Istawa ala Al Arsh should not be limited to this. This is one of my problems with figurative approaches. They decide one understanding as correct and negate others. This is wrong and limiting methodology.
    Salaams,

    That is no exception to the other side. Thus, the very nature of this debate in the first place.


    The context of the sentence lets us know whether the entity's nature is real or not and whether all or part of what it indicates to us applies or not. This is literal and thahir as understood by the Salaf.
    Isn't that what we are saying? The context limits the meaning... Just as the context can limit the meaning outside of figurative and metaphorical, it can limit the meaning outside of being literal and thahir.

    I don't see it... To me, your applying one standard to figurative and ignoring it for the literal...

    Limiting the understanding to Majaz only is negation of the real entity. No one of the Salaf rejected the majaz meaning as long as it also accepted the reality of the entities discussed.
    Again, you presume the 'reality of the entity', when in fact, the 'reality of the entity' may be figurative....

    What I see is that either the argument has to be real and figurative, or just real. It can never be just figruative. This is essentially what the argument boils down to...
    Last edited by ihsan; 27th September 2007 at 16:28.
    "Those who deny the strength of truth,
    God does not give them courage." - Bulleh Shah

  5. #155
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    347

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    hussein,

    I think we are in agreement about one thing. We do not have the knowledge nor the basis to say Allah does not have hands. My only addition to that which you may take issue with is that since it is of no value in terms of meaning to take the literal meaning of hands, and since it is more meaningful in terms of the finite human understanding to take it as power, that is the relevant meaning to keep in mind, and whether Allah actually has hands or not becomes moot.

    Shanqiti's risalah is the one that Ibn Abi Yala recommended, I believe as a derivative of ibn taymiyyah's writings... however, since i don't really concur with what he's saying, i may switch over to reading ibn taymiyyah's risalah. But what he did was state that majaz is forbidden because it carries the potential of negation. He even started out by saying it's not even allowed in the arabic language in general. But then I only read part of it, so there may be more to it.

  6. #156
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    2,349

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salaam all,

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron
    Would you agree that Istawa Ala al-Arsh means that God took to the Throne but that we don't know how or what it was like but the meaning of this is that God established His dominion and continued to run the affairs of the universe?

    Also, figurative language can be quite specific..."the IRS struck him a blow." They didn't punch him, hopefully
    For the first question I would accept your understanding if two conditions are met:
    1- You are not limiting the meaning of Istawa ala Al Arsh to it.
    2- You are not using this understanding as a means to deny the realness of Istawa ala Al Arsh.

    As for the second, it is very specific only because the context makes it more specific. When the context is God, then the context cannot be very narrow or specific because our knowledge of God is very limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ihsan
    Again, you presume the 'reality of the entity', when in fact, the 'reality of the entity' may be figurative....
    When the context leaves wide the understanding, such as attributes of God, then a person has no right to negate one or another. Both are possible and unless the context clearly excludes one of the two, then both are binding understandings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ihsan
    What I see is that either the argument has to be real and figurative, or just real.
    The Salaf's understanding is that it is both unless the context indicates that one of the two is out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ihsan
    It can never be just figruative. This is essentially what the argument boils down to...
    I would still say that if the context makes it only figurative then it is only that. The problem is that the negators of the attributes made their understanding figurative and negated the real without textual and contextual support.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shuaib
    My only addition to that which you may take issue with is that since it is of no value in terms of meaning to take the literal meaning of hands, and since it is more meaningful in terms of the finite human understanding to take it as power, that is the relevant meaning to keep in mind, and whether Allah actually has hands or not becomes moot.
    There are two potential ways to understand your statement:

    1- Let us as people concentrate on correct shared understanding in the form of what the statement indicates and leads to (including any way we arrive at that conclusion), then I am fine with that.

    2- The being real or not being real does not change anything. I would definitely disagree on two grounds:

    Textual:
    1- Gives the reader the right to decide how to understand the text, when we should let the text decide. This opens the door to further manipulations of the text.

    2- It makes the Qur'an appear poor literarily. This is because it will appear poorly written when one reads a statement and then says, but it does not really mean that. While another looks at the text and does not find evidence of that intention nor a negation of an alternative understanding. That is a definition of a poorly written book. One has to trust that what the Qur'an left unspecified, it left it for a reason and it is not for us to specify it, nor negate part of the range of that meaning.

    3- If one is to say that figurative is the way the Prophet and early Muslims understood it, then one does not have any Sahih or less than Sahih hadeeth supporting this understanding. In fact, the hadeeth is in support of the real. Yes, one may not trust hadeeth, but whether one trusts hadeeth or not, it is a reflection of the understanding of the early Muslim community, the ones who spoke the language of the Qur'an. That understanding is more than anything, in support of the "real" understanding which encompasses real and figurative without limitations except by context.

    Logically:
    Let us assume that they rejected hands because it has to be physical, then they move to the "non physical power". In that case they moved from one thing that is physical to another. This is self contradiction. This fact was not lost on the philosophers of the time of Ashaaris. The philosophers detected the self contradictions in that methodology. The more consistent method will be to deny the power as well until one ends up in nothing.

    For the above two reasons, the Ashaaris ended up being attacked from both sides of the equation, the textualists and the philosophers. Their defence will end up in resorting to "the uniqueness of God," which is the defence of anyone. The Ashaaris however, are much higher and much better than any other group who moved in the direction of negation and for that, they are appreciated.

    Take care all and have a great day.


    Hussein
    To consider that our logic is logical all the time is actually illogical. To consider that our understanding of the text is correct all the time is also illogical.

  7. #157
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    347

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    hussein,


    Well what I mean is to move to the meaning that is relevant to us.

    Anyway, I'd be curious to know the difference between a real and unreal hand. These seem to be rather vague terms. It seems to me that you would not be able to define real hand for Allah without breaching the limits we have all prescribed.

    But even if you could, and you have some idea of a "real" version of Allah's hand, what I say is that no one can say it is not so since to negate an attribute of Allah one has to have complete knowledge of Him or that attribute has to be contradictory to another attribute. As long as that attribute (hand) is not contradictory to what else we know of Allah, then no one can negate this "real" interpretation of Allah's hand. It may be moot to us, in the same way if Allah had one two or three eyes it would be moot to us. We should concentrate on what is relevant to the human sphere.

    But you do have a point to the way the salaf interpreted yad and the Quran, and the general picture they have of Allah. That before Allah made creation He was in some thick clouds, then He made the qalam and told it to write qadr, then he made the arsh and water etc etc etc.. this is very literal imagery, and there is no doubt that they saw these things literally. I personally say this is all external influence upon Islam, but I know that view holds little support here.

  8. #158
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    2,349

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salaam Shuaib,

    Anyway, I'd be curious to know the difference between a real and unreal hand. These seem to be rather vague terms. It seems to me that you would not be able to define real hand for Allah without breaching the limits we have all prescribed.
    Real in this context means: It exists outside of our brains.
    Unreal: It exists only in our brains.

    The nature of the real does not matter. What matters is the existance independantly of our brains.

    But you do have a point to the way the salaf interpreted yad and the Quran, and the general picture they have of Allah. That before Allah made creation He was in some thick clouds, then He made the qalam and told it to write qadr, then he made the arsh and water etc etc etc.. this is very literal imagery, and there is no doubt that they saw these things literally. I personally say this is all external influence upon Islam, but I know that view holds little support here.
    1- What is much more significant is something that a hadeeth skeptic cannot deny. The absence of interpretations that are figurative and metaphorical in the hadeeth, despite the presence, early in Islamic history of strong movements in that direction. So, the claim to external influences has to explain how some external influences appeared in hadeeth and others not. Unless they want to throw conspiracy theories, they cannot explain it adequately.

    2- The hadeeth does not mention that God was in a cloud. It says: Kana Allah walam yakun shay= God was and there was nothing.

    Take care and have a great day.


    Hussein
    To consider that our logic is logical all the time is actually illogical. To consider that our understanding of the text is correct all the time is also illogical.

  9. #159
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    347

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    salam hussein,

    Real in this context means: It exists outside of our brains.
    Unreal: It exists only in our brains.
    According to that definition of real and unreal, is there anyone that claims that Allah's yad exists only in our brains? I doubt that anyone, even heretical sects claims that much, because that is tantamount to claiming that God exists only in our brains.

    1- What is much more significant is something that a hadeeth skeptic cannot deny. The absence of interpretations that are figurative and metaphorical in the hadeeth, despite the presence, early in Islamic history of strong movements in that direction. So, the claim to external influences has to explain how some external influences appeared in hadeeth and others not. Unless they want to throw conspiracy theories, they cannot explain it adequately.
    Well if one claims that hadith are due to external influences, that does not mean it is an amalgum of all external influences in Islam. As far as conspiracy "theories" go, it's an interesting label that is used to discredit that there ever could be surreptitious forces at work. All one has to do is look at what was at play in the Islamic politics of that era. People like to think it was 200 years of bliss and then hadith were recorded, but anyway this is a digression which I am sure will not be fruitful at all. As far as metaphorical interpretations not being found in hadith, I am not surprised by that at all and I dont feel I need to have an answer for that, because I believe that was the very function of hadith, to separate the brain from the Quran and interpret everything at face value in order to stop tadabbur fil quran. You can say that this is conspiratorial thinking, but I have to call it like I see it. It could also be that it was a pure intention meant to stop the advance of opposing groups that were very liberal with Quranic interpretation... what other way to stop groups from being very liberal with Quranic interpretation than to lock down all metaphor and insist on literal interpretations of text and call that the only way to interpret and the way the prophet interpreted.

    2- The hadeeth does not mention that God was in a cloud. It says: Kana Allah walam yakun shay= God was and there was nothing.
    I read that in Tareekh at-tabari, my new bedtime read. I believe the word used was ghama', but don't quote me on that (i dont have it in front of me).

  10. #160
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    2,349

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salaam Shuaib,

    According to that definition of real and unreal, is there anyone that claims that Allah's yad exists only in our brains?
    Yes, that is exactly what the negators of the attributes say. You can read their own works. It goes like this "God cannot have real hands because real hands are only a body, jism".

    Your second paragraph is only your polemic and I will leave it at that. You miss one important aspect of hadeeth irrespective of authenticity. It documented the usage of the language and it documented the understanding of the language of those early muslims. The absence of any understanding that says "Take the word metaphorically but not really" tells you something about the understanding of the language of those muslims who knew their Arabic language. A conspiracy cannot cover the language and it's uses. Your dictionaries which came at least 300 years later do not negate that linguistic understanding.

    So, if you or anyone else want to present an alternative understanding of the Qur'an, then you have an uphill battle at least linguistically, especially when the criterion becomes your or other people's brains, which others take as bias.

    Take care and have a great day.


    Hussein
    To consider that our logic is logical all the time is actually illogical. To consider that our understanding of the text is correct all the time is also illogical.

  11. #161
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    347

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    salam hussein

    Yes, that is exactly what the negators of the attributes say. You can read their own works. It goes like this "God cannot have real hands because real hands are only a body, jism".
    I'm not at all familiar with the literature of the negators of attributes, but they seem to be applying a different definition of real and unreal. When they claim it cannot be real because real hands are a body, then that implies to me that their definition of real is literal and physical, for what is more real than something palpable and physical perceivable... and I think that is why ahl-as-sunnah also retort back that obviously they accept laisa ka mithlihi shai' and they retort back that they do not delve into the how of Allah's hand, they just accept it at face value. So it seems to me that the definition of real and unreal is still vague.

    As far as hadith documenting the usage of language... i would have to say yse and no there. It certainly is represents a large body of prose composed in an early era and is therefore an important source of language... however, that does not mean that hadith itself was aimed at deriving knowledge from the Quran through language.

    The absence of any understanding that says "Take the word metaphorically but not really" tells you something about the understanding of the language of those muslims who knew their Arabic language.
    Again, this statement is too vague for me to derive any meaning. What does it mean to take something but not really? For example, thulm and noor, often taken metaphorically for good and evil... but is it real or not? I think we can all say it is real. Take the metaphorical interpretation of yad as power.. is it real or unreal? I would say it is absolutely real, and that power does not just exist inside my brain. So I would have to say, there is no example anywhere in any group that takes words metaphorically but not really modern or ancient (except perhaps in tasawwuf from my very general understanding of it).

    So, if you or anyone else want to present an alternative understanding of the Qur'an, then you have an uphill battle at least linguistically, especially when the criterion becomes your or other people's brains, which others take as bias.
    Believe me when I tell you, it is definitely an uphill battle in more ways than one.

    But the thing is Hussein, interpretation of the Quran (tafsir) is not really done on the basis of linguistics anyway. Tabari and ibn Kathir, some of the most classic tafsirs, are written on the basis of sabab nuzool and hadith. That is how it is possible for the tafsir sometimes to be rather different than what is linguistically being said. 4:34 was an example of that, maybe i should just start a new thread for some feedback on that. But as for your comment, I dont think it's a question of other people's brains and authenticity etc... I truly believe that the utter truth is something that is clearly manifest and obvious when presented clearly.. that doesn't mean that everyone will accept it, just as they rejected it even when it was presented by the Prophet saw himself. Acceptance by people who have clear tendencies towards ancestor worship is not the yardstick to use when presenting the truth.

  12. #162
    Administrator
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    4,837

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salam Hussein,

    Am I understanding you correctly that your position is that "yad" or "throne" are real physical things but we may never know them for their true nature. When such an expression is made it is the only way we can be specific. In other words, a literal interpretation is the only one that is specific and no one should argue with it because that's what it says. However, the same expression could have a metaphorical meaning to it. This, however, is open wide to interpretation. Is this understanding correct? Figurative speech, to your mind, cannot be specific? Can you explain why? Consider the following examples:

    Mile-high ice-cream cones

    He has an iron fist

    The pen is mightier than the sword

    Her voice is full of money

    To me it seems clear that the context can establish even figurative speech. I want to understand why you disagree, if in fact you do.

    Regards

  13. #163
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    2,349

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salaam Ron,

    Am I understanding you correctly that your position is that "yad" or "throne" are real physical things but we may never know them for their true nature.
    Incorrect. My position and that of the Salaf is that it is real and that we should not delve into it's nature. Meaning that God did not say that His attributes are physical or not and for that we stop at real. There are many reasons why:

    1- God is unique. He can be real without being physical the way we know physical. Everything that we know that is real (exists independant of our brains) is physical. However, God is unlike any of it and is real.

    2- The term physical is vague and in the light of our knowledge of today, physical and energy are the same.

    3- If you say real then you keep open the nature of the entity. If you deny real, then there is only one response: "The entity is only in your brain and does not exist in reality."

    When such an expression is made it is the only way we can be specific. In other words, a literal interpretation is the only one that is specific and no one should argue with it because that's what it says.
    Not when you do the above. Accepting the reality of the term means that you accept all the indications that the term points to (metaphoric and all included), without specifically delving into it's nature and without having to declare it unreal (limited to our brains) through a figurative only interpretation.

    However, the same expression could have a metaphorical meaning to it. This, however, is open wide to interpretation. Is this understanding correct?
    Correct if one is not using the metaphorical meaning to deny the reality of the entity being discussed. However, metaphorical understandings are narrow. For example the hand as power is much narrower than what hands generally do.

    Figurative speech, to your mind, cannot be specific? Can you explain why?
    Figurative speech, when it comes to God, comes from a preconceived notion and looking at the attribute in very specific terms. When you assume above, that the way I view real Yad as physical. You already made the real hand very specific when you should not have done it. This then forced you to make the hand unreal and to understand it only in figurative terms to run away from the real. You made the hand of God much more specific than the text and context allowed you to do.

    Mile-high ice-cream cones

    He has an iron fist

    The pen is mightier than the sword

    Her voice is full of money

    To me it seems clear that the context can establish even figurative speech. I want to understand why you disagree, if in fact you do.
    In all the above examples, you know enough specific information about those entities which would enable you to understand them only figuratively and declare them "unreal". For example, you know that the pen has no hard edge and so on and so forth. You do not know enough about God to make you certain of "figurative only" understanding.

    In the end you will find the difference between deniers of attributes and Salafi thought as this:

    1- Salaf. I accept it's reality. I do not indulge on specifics nor assume. I get all what it points to of meaning, without limitation except from the text or the rest of the message.

    2- Deniers of attributes: I reject reality because I assumer specifics if it were real. I limit my understanding to a particular one that agrees with my mind.

    I hope this helps and take care all.


    Hussein
    To consider that our logic is logical all the time is actually illogical. To consider that our understanding of the text is correct all the time is also illogical.

  14. #164
    Administrator
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    4,837

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salam Hussein,

    Thanks for your explanation.
    Incorrect. My position and that of the Salaf is that it is real and that we should not delve into it's nature. Meaning that God did not say that His attributes are physical or not and for that we stop at real.
    By physical I meant actual. Physical not in any way we would know it. I think I understand you and what I stated may have not been clearly said but it is what I meant.
    1- God is unique. He can be real without being physical the way we know physical. Everything that we know that is real (exists independant of our brains) is physical. However, God is unlike any of it and is real.
    I understand this point. That's what I was trying to say but failed to get the point across.
    2- The term physical is vague and in the light of our knowledge of today, physical and energy are the same.
    As I said, I meant actual. I understand your point. Pardon my use of "physical."
    3- If you say real then you keep open the nature of the entity. If you deny real, then there is only one response: "The entity is only in your brain and does not exist in reality."
    All three points I understood. Thank you for further clarifying.
    Not when you do the above. Accepting the reality of the term means that you accept all the indications that the term points to (metaphoric and all included), without specifically delving into it's nature and without having to declare it unreal (limited to our brains) through a figurative only interpretation.
    Here you seem to be little closer to what I was saying. If we accept the reality submitting that we cannot know it for what it really is but when you say we accept all the metaphoric connotations then we are limiting the interpretation are we not? We accepted the first part but the second part one is not supposed to bog it down to anything. In other words you can admit the interpretations of Ibn Arabi into the arena without problems. However, if we say that the figurative language can speak specifically then it would be easier to deal with. The reason I'm saying this is because it seems you rejected what Ihsan and I were saying based on the claim that we were limiting the meaning when we never did. I think your problem with us is that you believe that:

    1. We are saying that the Throne is not real.
    2. We are saying that the Throne is not an actual Throne (without knowing its nature of course) but only figurative langauge being employed.
    3. We are saying that the Istawa Ala al-'Arsh can only mean control/management and nothing else.

    Am I correct in copmrehending what you think of what our understanding is?
    Correct if one is not using the metaphorical meaning to deny the reality of the entity being discussed. However, metaphorical understandings are narrow. For example the hand as power is much narrower than what hands generally do.
    If they are narrow then why is it that you disagree that Istawa can mean control? Afterall, you've argued all along that we should not narrow the meaning: 1. To the realness of the object discussed 2. the metaphorical usage. I think that this is one of the things we've been saying all along that figurative language can be pretty specific. I'm not sure why you disagreed with that.
    Figurative speech, when it comes to God, comes from a preconceived notion and looking at the attribute in very specific terms. When you assume above, that the way I view real Yad as physical. You already made the real hand very specific when you should not have done it. This then forced you to make the hand unreal and to understand it only in figurative terms to run away from the real. You made the hand of God much more specific than the text and context allowed you to do.
    Figurative speech is a result of the human condition. It comes with our linguistics and expression. Thus, there's no issue if we know or don't know something, it's simply that we express certain concepts in certain ways because that's how we can communicate an idea. Figurative explains something in easier terms or more colorful terms so that we better understand a point or idea. When we speak about God no one should say they know His nature. Actually, that's a good point in itself. When we call God "His" then this word assigns a sex. We know that God is unique and referring to "Him" by a pronoun indicates His power and force etc...What we do know is that God does have power and typically in the human realm we know power is indicated by the male sex. So we use it not to refer to God's nature but a simple expression because we are so limited in our human languages. So indeed, we do not know God's nature but we refer to Him in accordance to the limited information that we do know. So Yad, even if it is real but we cannot know it then the only way we can comprehend the idea is that depending context it is figuratively used to mean something specific. So we can connect to the idea of the figurative expression but if you tell us there is a hand but nothing that we can possibly understand then there's a disconnect. Maybe you'll argue that the whole point is the disconnect but then the communication could be potentially meaningless. Again, I'm not saying anything about the realness of the subject. I don't deny anything that God says. I submit to the allegorical usage of the Qur'an.
    In all the above examples, you know enough specific information about those entities which would enable you to understand them only figuratively and declare them "unreal". For example, you know that the pen has no hard edge and so on and so forth. You do not know enough about God to make you certain of "figurative only" understanding.
    We know that He is unique and nothing is like Him. Also, I never mentioned something being unreal. As for figurative only, if I am expressing an idea like power, or wealth, or authority, or weakness, or what have you I don't need to know the nature of the the thing when I am merely expressing an idea.
    1- Salaf. I accept it's reality. I do not indulge on specifics nor assume. I get all what it points to of meaning, without limitation except from the text or the rest of the message.

    2- Deniers of attributes: I reject reality because I assumer specifics if it were real. I limit my understanding to a particular one that agrees with my mind.
    I hate to speak for others, but I don't think Shuaib, Ihsan, or I fall in number 2.
    I hope this helps and take care all.
    It does help. Thank you.

    Regards

  15. #165
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    2,349

    Default Re: Metaphors, idioms in Arabic.. Figurative Language and Islam.

    Salaam Ron and thanks for your explanation,

    It did help and it may be that we are just dealing with semantics when we may be closer to agreement than disagreement.

    As for Ibn Arabi's understandings of the metaphorical, then they are dismissed by the context and the message. In my understanding any understanding is correct as long as it is linguistically sound and in harmony with the context and the bigger message.

    As for my point about control. I did explain several times that I am against it being the only thing that one can get from Istawa. I may have been mistaken, but I got the impression when Ihsan and you seemed skeptical about Izaaree's and my other understandings especially the very important separateness of God from His creation. That is why I had the understanding here:
    I think your problem with us is that you believe that:

    1. We are saying that the Throne is not real.
    2. We are saying that the Throne is not an actual Throne (without knowing its nature of course) but only figurative langauge being employed.
    3. We are saying that the Istawa Ala al-'Arsh can only mean control/management and nothing else.
    Therefore I am very glad that you are not meaning to say any of the above. Do you accept "Istawa ala Al arsh" as indicating separateness of God from His creation as well?

    Take care brother and thanks for the explanation.


    Hussein
    To consider that our logic is logical all the time is actually illogical. To consider that our understanding of the text is correct all the time is also illogical.

Similar Threads

  1. American Muslims, Human Rights, and the Challenge
    By Darqawi in forum University of Cut-n-Paste
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 24th October 2006, 08:05
  2. THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT ISLAM
    By lenstern in forum Islamic Discussions
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 14th August 2006, 13:02
  3. Which Group
    By SunYatSen in forum Islamic Sects and Sectarian Issues
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 29th September 2005, 03:30
  4. My complete debate with Sam Shamoun
    By Yahya Sulaiman in forum Interfaith Dialogue
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 16th May 2005, 07:44
  5. Is every word of Quran "the Word of God"?
    By erizito in forum Islamic Discussions
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 19th November 2004, 21:22

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •